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Launa Rae Warinner eats, sleeps and breathes water and wastewater — figuratively speaking — and the customers she serves in the Mountain Water and Sanitation District.

Warinner has been working for the district since 1993, becoming district manager in 2018. Throughout the years, she’s done practically everything from holding road signs to lugging bags of sand to digging up manhole covers, and most importantly, going above and beyond to help the 386 customers in the district that serves part of Kings Valley.

That is why she won the Special District Association of Colorado’s 2020 Manager of the Year Award.

“Warinner has learned every detail for every staff role and can assist all the operators when necessary,” the SDA press release said. “Warinner anticipates needs, communicates well, and is diplomatic with staff and citizens alike. She is truly the rock and foundation of the district not only for its staff but also for the board.”

To say she is the foundation of the district is an understatement.

“She is the one we rely on to keep water and sanitation working,” said district board President Richard Swanson. “She is absolutely dedicated to the district and our customers, and she is the bedrock of the district. She enjoys what she’s doing, and she is super-dedicated in making water run for our clients.”

While she won this award, Warinner really wanted to give credit to Don Staal, who has been working in the district since 2002, and her husband of eight years, Denny Meyers, who is the manager at Aspen Park Hardware.

Why does she work long hours for the district to provide clean, safe water and to clean wastewater so it can be discharged back into a water source? “The people in the district are relying on us,” she said.

A simple beginning

Warinner was working for a Conifer real estate office when she saw a want ad in the 285 Hustler that the district was looking for a receptionist. She then moved into the office manager position, and in 2018 her title changed to district manager. She has learned everything on the job.

“Here in a small district, we do everything,” she said. “All you have to do is pay attention. You study the rules, the laws, the regulations and the training manuals. You keep yourself up to date.”

The job, she said, is more complex than most realize.

“It’s so fun to watch new board members in the beginning,” she said. “There’s an extreme amount of information — things they didn’t think of — that they need to learn. There are so many aspects to where we get our water and how we deal with our waste. It really affects everything.”

More in life

Warinner doesn’t have much free time thanks to her passion for the district, though she dotes on her three granddaughters and her husband.

“He is truly my everything,” she said, noting that their workaholic natures work well for the couple.

“We are old-time people here,” said Warinner, who was born and raised in Bailey, graduating from Platte Canyon High School in 1983. “We believe in keeping that small-town feel.”

Meyers described his wife as trustworthy, one who earns people’s respect and is a straight-shooter.

“What she says is the truth, and she can back it up,” Meyers said. “She’s a very efficient person. All the I’s have to be dotted and the T’s crossed. … I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world.”